Heart Transplant

This New Heart Transplant Method could provide Patients a Second Chance at Life

Healthcare Industry Insights

Oftentimes, patients waiting for life-saving organ transplants are unable to avail them. The result is a higher fatality rate due to various chronic conditions. This is especially true for the heart. Donate Life America reports that over 100,000 patients are listed on the heart transplant waiting list, with an estimated 17 deaths every day. Heart failure is an epidemic across the world, and a transplant is the best alternative to ensure the longevity of life. However, a dearth of viable donated organs is the main culprit behind such high fatalities.

But all is not lost yet. Medical practitioners and patients alike still have room to rejoice. Promising medical advances are opening frontiers for viable heart transplants, enabling more saving of lives. This “donation after circulatory death” (DCD) technique is used to recover kidneys and other vital organs, but not more fragile hearts. Researchers at Duke Health revealed that using such long-shunned hearts could possibly save at least a thousand more lives, expanding the number of heart donors by 30%.

DCD is yet another feather in the cap of the transplant diagnostics domain. Market research and consultancy firm Transparency Market Research forecasts the transplant diagnostic market to surpass a valuation of US$ 1,289.3 million by 2026, at an expected CAGR of 6.5%. Usually, doctors recover organs from patients once they are brain dead. The body is left on a ventilator so that the heart keeps beating until it is recovered and put on ice.

In contrast, donation after circulatory death occurs when someone has a nonsurvivable brain injury but, because all brain function hasn’t yet ceased, the family decides to withdraw life support and the heart stops. That means organs go without oxygen for a while before they can be recovered—and surgeons, worried the heart would be damaged, left it behind. Now doctors can remove those hearts and put them in a machine that reanimates them, pumping through blood and nutrients as they’re transported—and demonstrating if they work well before the planned transplant.

Using this approach, over 4,000 heart transplants were performed in the United States in 2022, while researchers in Australia and the United Kingdom began implementing this approach in 2016. It was reported that 9 out of 10 DCD hearts recovered were successfully transplanted, meaning that hospitals and other healthcare providers could leverage this technique and improve positive patient outcomes.

More recently, it was discovered that organs from hepatitis-C-positive patients could be safely transplanted to individuals on the waiting list. After the organs are transplanted, patients begin antiviral treatment that typically eliminates the virus from the body within a week. Likewise, the creation of organ-perfusion systems, mechanical devices that help organs remain viable outside the body, has changed organ transplants. For example, the “heart in a box” technology, a portable device that resuscitates a stopped heart, keeps it beating until it can be transplanted. Heart in a Box allows for long-distance heart transplantation. When a heart is placed in cold storage, it must be transplanted within four hours. Heart in a box doubles that time by at least eight hours.

With so many diverse approaches to transplantation being rendered possible, the day is not far off wherein there will a one hundred percent patient recovery rate.

Edward Turner

Edward has his fingers firmly placed on the pulse of the business world. He has a keen eye for any new development that could rock our world. He is adept at strategizing to boost web traffic and generate new leads. He is also an expert in Google Analytics, something which he feels could go a long way in getting sites more traction by providing necessary insights.

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